Minnesota write-in candidate beats the odds

Joshua Hoyt
Joshua Hoyt received the second-highest vote total as a write-in against a field of seven declared candidates running for two council seats in Farmington, Minn., on Nov. 6, 2018.
Photo courtesy of Joshua Hoyt

It's exceedingly rare for anyone running for office as a write-in candidate to succeed.

But last week a city council candidate in Farmington, Minn., managed to pull it off. Joshua Hoyt received the second-highest vote total against a field of seven declared candidates running for two seats in the Dakota County community on Nov. 6.

Hoyt, a local business owner, suicide awareness activist and Marine Corps veteran, didn't announce his run ahead of the filing deadline; he said he initially planned to run for City Council in 2020. But concerns about the handling of the dismissal of the community's police chief prompted him to move up that schedule.

"It didn't feel like the council was listening to the citizens, and their concerns, and their request for information," he told MPR News. "I didn't agree with, basically, the handling of the situation, and I thought, 'Here, we need to be proactive and we need to be more involved in an effort to get better transparency out of our City Council.' "

Hoyt said transparency in city government is something he wants to focus on as a councilor, and he said he wants to avoid an "us-vs.-them" mentality.

Hoyt said his campaign placed signs that used the term "write-in" instead of "vote" — "it was kind of branding and marketing at the same time," along with educating voters. The campaign produced Facebook videos, knocked on doors and went to local businesses to spread the word.

"Ultimately, we got the community to rally behind us and we just ran with it, and it worked out awesome," he said.

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